Bedsores, more properly known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are lesions caused by many factors such as: unrelieved pressure; friction; humidity; shearing forces; temperature; age; continence and medication; to any part of the body, especially portions over bony or cartilaginous areas such as sacrum, elbows, knees, ankles etc. Although easily prevented and completely treatable if found early, bedsores are often fatal — even under the auspices of medical care — and are one of the leading iatrogenic causes of death reported in developed countries, second only to adverse drug reactions.
Classification of Bedsores
The definitions of the four pressure ulcer stages are revised periodically by the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) in the United States. Briefly, however, they are as follows:
- Stage I is the most superficial, indicated by non blanchable redness that does not subside after pressure is relieved. This stage is visually similar to reactive hyperemia (a technical term for excessive redness) seen in skin after prolonged application of pressure. Stage I pressure ulcers can be distinguished from reactive hyperemia in two ways: a) reactive hyperemia resolves itself within 3/4 of the time pressure was applied, and b) reactive hyperemia blanches when pressure is applied, whereas a Stage I pressure ulcer does not. The skin may be hotter or cooler than normal, have an odd texture, or perhaps be painful to the patient. Although easy to identify on a light-skinned patient, ulcers on darker-skinned individuals may show up as shades of purple or blue in comparison to lighter skin tones.
- Stage II is damage to the epidermis extending into, but no deeper than, the dermis. In this stage, the ulcer may be referred to as a blister or abrasion.
- Stage III involves the full thickness of the skin and may extend into the subcutaneous tissue layer. This layer has a relatively poor blood supply and can be difficult to heal. At this stage, there may be undermining damage that makes the wound much larger than it may seem on the surface.
- Stage IV is the deepest, extending into the muscle, tendon or even bone.
- Unstageable pressure ulcers are covered with dead cells, or eschar and wound exudate, so the depth cannot be determined.
Suspected Deep tissue injury: Purple or maroon localized area of discolored intact skin or blood-filled blister due to damage of underlying soft tissue from pressure and/or shear. The area may be preceded by tissue that is painful, firm, mushy, boggy, warmer or cooler as compared to adjacent tissue.
Further description: Deep tissue injury may be difficult to detect in individuals with dark skin tones. Evolution may include a thin blister over a dark wound bed. The wound may further evolve and become covered by thin eschar. Evolution may be rapid exposing additional layers of tissue even with optimal treatment.
With higher stages, healing time is prolonged. While about 75% of Stage II ulcers heal within eight weeks, only 62% of Stage IV pressure ulcers ever heal, and only 52% heal within one year. It is important to note that pressure ulcers do not regress in stage as they heal. A pressure ulcer that is becoming shallower with healing is described in terms of its original deepest depth (e.g., healing Stage II pressure ulcer).
Bedsores are accepted to be caused by three different tissue forces:
- Pressure, or the compression of tissues. In most cases, this compression is caused by the force of bone against a surface, as when a patient remains in a single decubitus position for a lengthy period. After an extended amount of time with decreased tissue perfusion, ischemia occurs and can lead to tissue necrosis if left untreated in an immunocompromised patient.
- Shear force, or a force created when the skin of a patient stays in one place as the deep fascia and skeletal muscle slide down with gravity. This can also cause the pinching off of blood vessels which may lead to ischemia and tissue necrosis.
- Friction, or a force resisting the shearing of skin. This may cause excess shedding through layers of epidermis.
Aggravating the situation may be other conditions such as excess moisture from incontinence, perspiration or exudate. Over time, this excess moisture may cause the bonds between epithelial cells to weaken thus resulting in the maceration of the epidermis. Other factors in the development of bedsores include age, nutrition, vascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and smoking, amongst others.
There are currently two major theories about the development of pressure ulcers. The first and most accepted is the deep tissue injury theory which claims that the ulcers begin at the deepest level, around the bone, and move outward until they reach the epidermis. The second, less popular theory is the top-to-bottom model which says that skin first begins to deteriorate at the surface and then proceeds inward.
Pressure ulcers may be caused by inadequate blood supply and resulting reperfusion injury when blood re-enters tissue. A simple example of a mild pressure sore may be experienced by healthy individuals while sitting in the same position for extended periods of time: the dull ache experienced is indicative of impeded blood flow to affected areas. Within hours, this shortage of blood supply, called ischemia, may lead to tissue damage and cell death. The sore will initially start as a red, painful area, which eventually turns purple. Left untreated, the skin may break open and become infected. Moist skin is more sensitive to tissue ischemia and necrosis and is also more likely to get infected.
Within acute care, the incidence of bedsores is 0.4% to 38%; within long-term care, 2.2% to 23.9%; and in home care, 0% to 17%. There is the same wide variation in prevalence: 10% to 18% in acute care, 2.3% to 28% in long-term care, and 0% to 29% in home care. There is a much higher rate of bedsores in intensive care units because of immunocompromised individuals, with 8% to 40% of ICU patients developing bedsores.
The risk of developing bedsores can be determined by using the Braden Scale for Predicting Pressure Ulcer Risk. This scale is divided into six risk categories:
- sensory perception
- friction and shear
The best possible interpretation is a score of 23 whilst the worst is a 6. If the total score is below 11, the patient is at risk for developing bedsores.
Treatment of Bedsores
The most important thing to keep in mind about the treatment of bedsores is that the most optimal outcomes find their roots in a multidisciplinary approach; by using a team of specialists, there is a better chance that all bases will be covered in treatment.
There are seven major contributors to healing.
The removal of necrotic tissue is an absolute must in the treatment of pressure sores. Because dead tissue is an ideal area for bacterial growth, it has the ability to greatly compromise wound healing. There are at least seven ways to excise necrotic tissue.
- Autolytic debridement is the use of moist dressings to promote autolysis with the body’s own enzymes. It is a slow process, but mostly painless.
- Biological debridement, or maggot debridement therapy, is the use of medical maggots to feed on necrotic tissue and therefore clean the wound of excess bacteria. Although this fell out of favour for many years, in January 2004, the FDA approved maggots as a live medical device.
- Chemical debridement, or enzymatic debridement, is the use of prescribed enzymes that promote the removal of necrotic tissue.
- Mechanical debridement is the use of outside force to remove dead tissue. A quite painful method, this involves the packing of a wound with wet dressings that are allowed to dry and then are removed. This is also unpopular because it has the ability to remove healthy tissue in addition to dead tissue. Lastly, with Stage IV ulcers, there is the chance that overdrying of the dressings can lead to bone fractures and ligament snaps.
- Sharp debridement is the removal of necrotic tissue with a scalpel or similar instrument.
- Surgical debridement is the most popular method, as it allows a surgeon to quickly remove dead tissue with little pain to the patient.
- Ultrasound-assisted wound therapy is the use of ultrasound waves to separate necrotic and healthy tissue.
Infection has one of the greatest effects on the healing of a wound. Purulent discharge provides a breeding ground for excess bacteria, a problem especially in the immunocompromised patient. Symptoms of systemic infection include fever, pain, erythema, oedema, and warmth of the area, not to mention purulent discharge. Additionally, infected wounds may have a gangrenous smell, be discoloured, and may eventually exude even more pus.
In order to eliminate this bioburden, it is imperative to apply antiseptics and antimicrobials at once. It is not recommended to use hydrogen peroxide for this task as it is difficult to balance the toxicity of the wound with this. New dressings have been developed that have cadexomer iodine and silver in them, and they are used to treat bad infections. Duoderm can be used on smaller wounds to both provide comfort and protect them from outside air and infections.
It is not recommended to use systemic antibiotics to treat infection of a bedsore, as it can lead to bacterial resistance.
Upon admission, the patient should have a consultation with a dietitian to determine the best diet to support healing, as a malnourished person does not have the ability to synthesize enough protein to repair tissue. The dietitian should conduct a nutritional assessment that includes a battery of questions and a physical examination. If malnourishment is suspected, lab tests should be run to check serum albumin and lymphocyte counts. Additionally, a bioelectrical impedance analysis should be considered.
If the patient is found to be at risk for malnutrition, it is imperative to begin nutritional intervention with dietary supplements and nutrients including, but not limited to, arginine, glutamine, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin E, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, selenium and zinc. It is very important that intake of these vitamins and minerals be overseen by a physician, as many of them can be detrimental in incorrect dosages.
The most important care for a patient with bedsores is the relief of pressure. Once a bedsore is found, pressure should immediately be lifted from the area and the patient turned at least every two hours to avoid aggravating the wound. Nursing homes and hospitals usually set programs to avoid the development of bedsores in bedridden patients such as using a standing frame to reduce pressure and ensuring dry sheets by using catheters or impermeable dressings. For individuals with paralysis, pressure shifting on a regular basis and using a cushion featuring pressure relief components can help prevent pressure wounds.
Pressure-distributive mattresses are used to reduce high values of pressure on prominent or bony areas of the body. However, methods to evaluate the efficacy of these products have only been developed in recent years.
Educating the caregiver
In the case that the patient will be returning to home care, it is very important to educate the family about how to treat their loved one’s pressure ulcers. The cross-specialisation wound team should train the caregiver in the proper way to turn the patient, how to properly dress the wound, how to properly nourish the patient, and how to deal with crisis, among other things.
As this is a very difficult undertaking, the caregiver may feel overburdened and depressed, so it may be best to bring in a psychological consult.
Once the patient has reached the point that intervention is possible, there are many different options. For patients with Stages I and II ulcers, the wound care team should use guidelines established by the American Medical Directors Association (AMDA) for the treatment of these low-grade sores.
For those with Stage III or IV ulcers, most interventions will likely include surgery such as a tissue flap, skin graft or other closure methods. A more recent intervention is Negative Pressure Wound Therapy, which is the application of topical negative pressure to the wound. This technique, developed by scientists at Wake Forest University, uses foam placed into the wound cavity which is then covered in a film which creates an airtight seal. Once this seal is established, the technician is able to remove exudate and other infectious materials in addition to aiding the body produce granulation tissue, the best bed for the creation of new skin.
There are, unfortunately, contraindications to the use of negative pressure therapy. Most deal with the unprepared patient, one who has not gone through the previous steps toward recovery, but there are also wound characteristics that bar a patient from participating: a wound with inadequate circulation, a raw debridled wound, a wound with necrotised tissue and eschar, and a fibrotic wound.
After Negative Pressure Wound Therapy, the patient should be reevaluated every two weeks to determine future therapy.
Complications for Bedsores
Pressure sores can trigger other ailments, and cause patients considerable suffering and financial cost. Some complications include autonomic dysreflexia, bladder distension, osteomyelitis, pyarthroses, sepsis, amyloidosis, anemia, urethral fistula, gangrene and very rarely malignant transformation. Sores often recur because patients do not follow recommended treatment or develop seromas, hematomas, infections, or dehiscence. Paralytic patients are the most likely people to have pressure sores recur. In some cases, complications from pressure sores can be life-threatening. The most common causes of fatality stem from renal failure and amyloidosis.
Homeopathy Treatment for Bedsores
Keywords: homeopathy, homeopathic, treatment, cure, remedy, remedies, medicine
Homeopathy treats the person as a whole. It means that homeopathic treatment focuses on the patient as a person, as well as his pathological condition. The homeopathic medicines are selected after a full individualizing examination and case-analysis, which includes the medical history of the patient, physical and mental constitution, family history, presenting symptoms, underlying pathology, possible causative factors etc. A miasmatic tendency (predisposition/susceptibility) is also often taken into account for the treatment of chronic conditions. A homeopathy doctor tries to treat more than just the presenting symptoms. The focus is usually on what caused the disease condition? Why ‘this patient’ is sick ‘this way’. The disease diagnosis is important but in homeopathy, the cause of disease is not just probed to the level of bacteria and viruses. Other factors like mental, emotional and physical stress that could predispose a person to illness are also looked for. No a days, even modern medicine also considers a large number of diseases as psychosomatic. The correct homeopathy remedy tries to correct this disease predisposition. The focus is not on curing the disease but to cure the person who is sick, to restore the health. If a disease pathology is not very advanced, homeopathy remedies do give a hope for cure but even in incurable cases, the quality of life can be greatly improved with homeopathic medicines.
The homeopathic remedies (medicines) given below indicate the therapeutic affinity but this is not a complete and definite guide to the homeopathy treatment of this condition. The symptoms listed against each homeopathic remedy may not be directly related to this disease because in homeopathy general symptoms and constitutional indications are also taken into account for selecting a remedy. To study any of the following remedies in more detail, please visit the Materia Medica section at Hpathy.
None of these medicines should be taken without professional advice and guidance.
Homeopathy Remedies for Bedsores :
Agar., ambr., am-c., am-m., ant-c., arg-n., arn., ars., bapt., bar-c., bell., bov., calc., calc-p., canth., carb-an., carb-v., caust., cham., chin., coff., colch., crot-h., dros., euph., fl-ac., graph., ham., hep., hippoz., hydr., hyper., ign., kali-ar., kali-c., kreos., lach., led., lyc., mag-m., mang., merc., mez., nat-c., nat-m., nit-ac., nux-v., olnd., op., paeon., petr., ph-ac., phos., plb., puls., rhus-t., ruta., sel., sep., sil., spig., squil., sulph., sul-ac., ter., zinc.
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